A mix of collections brings good results at Melbourne auction

Three items from Melbourne collector Andrée Harkness took top billing at Gibson’s Auctions Interior Private Collections sale on Sunday June 5 with another three featuring among the top 10 results.

Leading the charge was a pair of early 18th century Queen Anne/George I walnut sided chairs and conforming foot stool (lot 77) – acquired in May 2008 from Brian Rolleston of London – which, although listed at a modest $400-$500 catalogue estimate, changed hands for $24,400 including buyer’s premium.

In second spot was a complete set of 20 etchings entitled Lysistrata 1970 in a canvas covered portfolio (lot 27) by Australian artist Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) – that sold for $14,640.

In 1970, Boyd created a suite of etchings based on the Greek political comedy Lysistrata by playwright Aristophanes (c.445-c.386 BCE)– in which Lysistrata persuades Athenian women to deny their husbands and lovers all sexual favours until the men had negotiated peace during the Peloponnesian War between Greek city states Athens and Sparta.

An early 18th century George I walnut bureau (lot 24) brought $7930 on a $800-$1200 catalogue estimate, while three other Harkness possessions – lots 4, 38, and 81 – respectively sold for $7320, $6710 and $4880.

The first of these was a Klytie Pate (1912-2010) glazed ceramic lamp, the second a sculpture entitled Rouleaux D’écriture, Oiseau De Mer and Visage Et Serpent, 1972 by French artist Pierre Alechinsky and the last a glazed earthenware budgerigar group by Grace Seccombe (1880-1956).

Also featuring in the top 10 were several Aboriginal paintings by the Lockhart River Art Gang collected in 1997 by Julie Hickson – manager to acclaimed songwriter Archie Roach and his partner Ruby Hunter during a pioneering musical tour of indigenous communities on Australia’s Cape York peninsula.

Minnie Pwerle’s (1922-2006) work Awelye Atnwengerrp (Bush Melon) 2004 (lot 240) fetched the highest price of these paintings, changing hands for $7930.

Lily Kelly Napangardi’s Tali 2006 (lot 248) also performed well within its catalogue estimate range at $5368 – as did Naata Nungurrayi’s Untitled 2007 (lot 249) at $5124.

Rounding out the top 10 at $4392 was a heavy gauge cast bronze head of Simpson’s Donkey (lot 106) by William Wallace Anderson (1888-1975).

A stretcher bearer, Private John Simpson became famous during the Australian World War I campaign against the Turks at Gallipoli for ferrying wounded soldiers to safety on his donkey before he was killed in action on May 19, 1915, less than four weeks after they landed on April 25 (now celebrated as Anzac Day) at Anzac Cove.

As a commemoration, Anderson’s sculpture, Man with the Donkey, depicting Simpson and his donkey at Gallipoli is located in the grounds of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.

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